Friday, July 5, 2013

Born on the Fourth of July

Lest you wonder where the flag and the fireworks are, let me warn you up front - this is not a patriotic post. However, I think you will agree once you see my subject matter, that the title remains appropriate!

Floral "Fireworks"
We had a nice shower the evening of the 3rd, so on the morning of the 4th, I went out in the back yard and snapped this floral bouquet of fireworks.  Then around the middle of the afternoon, I decided to go out for a walk.  We have streamway trails nearby, and if a person keeps their eyes open, there is much wildlife to see even in this urban area.  Deer, foxes, Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Barred and Great Horned Owls...and several years ago, I saw a bobcat one snowy Thanksgiving morning!

I've always been a bit of a nature girl, and noticing detail is my specialty! Let me start my story today with a photo I got one fall not too long ago.  I was out on the trails, and saw a milkweed pod that had opened, and the seed 'babies' were just beginning their journey to become plants of their own someday. I have always loved trying to find these pods, opening them up and scattering the seeds - as a child, we used to find a bunch of them, open them up all at once and try to make it look like it was snowing!
So for now, keep this picture in the back of your mind - as I kept in in the back of mine.

Although I am not an entomologist, I do love butterflies - and my yard with its variety of butterfly-friendly perennials will confirm that.  I have a huge beautiful butterfly bush, and a butterfly weed plant (A. tuberosa), but they are both used more for nutrition for the adult Monarch butterfly, rather than egg-laying (This site has some great information on the Monarch, if you wish to learn more about them). 

When I was a kid, I saw a great many Monarch caterpillars, but I will never forget the first time I saw a Monarch butterfly chrysalis - it is the most heavenly color of greenish-blue, and at the top, I always thought it looked like someone had taken gold thread and stitched it closed.  Much later, as I entered my rock-hound phase, I came to see a lot of chrysoprase as being of very similar color.

As I was nearing the end of my walk, I happened to go by what looked like a young sapling tree with a Monarch Butterfly on it. I had my cell phone with me and snapped a few shots, and as I was taking the pics, I remembered that this was the exact 'tree' I had taken the milkweed photos of in the fall, and I thought I would try and investigate a little more...Those of you who are observant, may already see in this picture what I got several close-ups of!

Yup!  That's right - I had stumbled on a Monarch Butterfly laying her eggs! I switched to the macro setting and snapped these -stay tuned to my blog, as I plan to try to photograph these in the next few days to see if I can catch them hatching.

And now you know why I am saying that these guys were 'born on the 4th of July!'

Here's to more Monarch Butterflies everywhere!